I was contacted by a new client in early March who had lost traffic in February 2018. They were wondering if they had been negatively impacted by an algorithm change such as a Penguin or Panda update.

Indeed, there were many updates throughout the month of February, as can be seen by this screenshot I happened to take from RankRanger on March 1, 2018:

February 1 – 28, 2018 Google Algorithm Changes.

The key dates of Google Algorithm Updates were:

  • February 1, 2018
  • February 2, 2018
  • February 3, 2018
  • February 4, 2018
  • February 5, 2018
  • February 21, 2018
  • February 28, 2018

I should note here that many algorithm changes are not detected until the day after the update. For example, a February 20, 2018 Google update may not be reported until the 21st.

There was no named update

Thankfully the SEO geeks haven’t given these updates names. Google has confirmed that the algorithm is tweaked 1,500 times per year. Of course, they’re always trying to make it better.

Most traffic losses or gains were related to Featured Snippets

In the case above, when I began to examine the client’s Google Analytics profile, I quickly discovered that their loss of traffic was caused by not a loss of rankings but a loss of traffic to a handful of specific pages. Those pages are pages which used to rank in “position zero” or “answer boxes”. In most cases, these answer boxes drive a significant amount of traffic. Pages losing position zero often experience a loss of traffic ranging from 50% – 15,000%. (However, some pages actually GAIN traffic when a Featured Snippet position is lost).

There were indeed many changes to the Featured Snippets portion of Google Search in February 2018. They introduced multi-faceted snippets and tremors changed FS results as Google looked to provide its users with the best possible answer.

Did your rankings change?

If you experienced a noticeable change in ranking positions in February 2018 please feel free to comment below.

  1. Yes I also Had a drop in traffic to my blog http://allguideto.blogspot.com and am wondering why???

    • You are posting medical content on a random blogspot blog. This is a quality issue. WebMD, Mayo Clinic and other medical websites with actual doctors rank for this kind of thing now. Sorry, the future doesn’t look good for that site.

  2. On February 23, all sales on my website stopped. I finally had one sale today from my most loyal returning customer, but I was previously (before Feb 23) getting at least daily sales. I checked everything on the website, and nothing on my end has changed. It really has me freaked me out. I read somewhere else that Google had rolled out a thing that dropped the rank of slow-loading websites on mobile devices. It’s possible that’s my problem, but I haven’t made any website changes yet. I’m HOPING things get back up again, but whatever happened is really impacting my career.

    I’m reminded that we can’t rely on another company (even if it is Google) to make us our living.

    • Hmm. I wonder which specific keywords you dropped for. I see you have a lot of links from gospellivingmadeawesome.com… That may or may not be ok. You do need to figure out a way to get better links though.

      But I looked at a random page on your site:
      This page has almost no text content at all. I would start there. This is a thin content / quality issue. I would write a 400+ word description of this book, post it to the site and have it recrawled and see how you rank for that term in a few days. I bet you’d see some improvement fairly quickly.

      You’ll also want to go to HTTPS before July to prevent “insecure warnings” – coming soon to a web browser near you.

      The good news is that with better on page content, you will probably not only recover your rankings but enjoy increased traffic as well.

      Recap: There are too many pages on your site with thin content.

    • I also just realized the site isn’t responsive and your blog is on a subdomain. Hmm.. I don’t know. You may need to overhaul that site. I like WordPress/WooCommerce but you may want to consider Shoppify. You have your work cut out for you but Google is your friend. It’s made me nervous a few times but I’ve depended on Google traffic for over 20yrs.. Think UX and mobile first…

  3. My site https://skinnyfitmom.com had its organic traffic decimated from Feb 28th till 11 March. It went from 500 clicks from search to 8 clicks in 10 days. Thankfully, 80% of traffic is from social sources so no impact on revenue and overall traffic but I just wonder what that update was all about so I can make changes. Thanks

  4. Hello Len,

    Staring early February my website traffic started to fluctuate a little through the month but then on February 27th almost over night my traffic dropped to basically a flatline, from an average of 500-1000 visitors a day to 25-50 per day & it appears be only getting worse.

    I hear a lot about thin content on lots of pages, but my website is for my clothing brand. There is only so much product information i can write.

    Could you take a look at my site & try point out any problems you see? http://www.theantilife.com

    prior to the drop, I did have a aggressive newsletter sign up pop up that would appear for the first time a customer would visit my website, which i have now removed since reading an article regarding a google update that targeted those type of things.

    I also added some sections to my homepage which i once removed last year to try and simplifying my clothing brand homepage.

    Any help would be sincerely appreciated!


    • eCommerce sites got hit quite a bit then and again in March along with many other sites.. I looked at one page, https://www.theantilife.com/collections/accessories/products/burn-slow-snapback-cap, and can see that you would need much more content to rank better. If the popup was negatively impacting things, that could be one of the factors, and once corrected it can take quite a while for things to turn around. You definitely need more content though. The algo isn’t perfect and I have seen a lot of sites impacted which probably shouldn’t be. I’m not sure what a lot of things are supposed to rank for though… If I Google “burn slow snapback” you’re #1, although that isn’t likely something anyone is searching for…
      Search engines like text content…

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